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Supreme Court Says Prisoners Can Seek Parole Who Were Sentenced to Life as Juveniles



David G. Savage, L.A. Times


The Supreme Court opened the door Monday to possible parole for hundreds of aging prisoners across the nation who are serving life terms for homicides committed when they were under age 18.


In a 6-3 decision, the justices said these prisoners can take advantage of an earlier ruling that called it cruel and unusual punishment to send a juvenile criminal to life in prison with no chance for parole.


Since then, California and most other states have given such prisoners a new sentence or provided them with a right to seek parole. But several states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Louisiana, have refused to reopen these old cases.


Monday’s decision gave new hope to a 69-year old Louisiana inmate who shot and killed a police officer in Baton Rouge in November 1963, days before President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Henry Montgomery was 17 then and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance for parole.


Justice Anthony M. Kennedy has played the key role in a series of decisions that have restored the principle that young offenders should not be treated the same as hardened adult criminals.


In Monday’s opinion, he said these prisoners do not have an automatic right to go free, but they do have a right to a parole hearing or a new sentence that limits their prison terms.


Henry Montgomery has spent each day of the past 46 years knowing he was condemned to die in prison,” Kennedy said. “Perhaps it can be established that, due to exceptional circumstances, this fate was a just and proportionate punishment for the crime he committed as a 17-year-old boy.”


But “children are constitutionally different from adults in their level of culpability,” and “prisoners like Montgomery must be given the opportunity to show their crime did not reflect irreparable corruption, and if it did not, their hope for some years outside prison walls must be restored.”


His opinion in Montgomery vs. Louisiana was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.


Kennedy spoke for the court in 2005 when the justices abolished the death penalty for juvenile murderers, and again in 2010 when life terms for juvenile offenders, except for those convicted of murder, were deemed cruel and unusual punishment.


Four years ago, the court in an Alabama case said that even young offenders convicted of homicide should be rarely, if ever, sentenced to a life term with no chance for parole. But at the time, the court did not say whether its ruling must apply retroactively to old cases, the issue that was resolved Monday.


Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., who disagreed with the earlier rulings, dissented on Monday.


Formerly Incarcerated Can Help Bring Peace to the Streets

This wave of violence is very brutal but not new. And unless there is a miracle from our most high God, this violence won’t be eliminated.



Hasan Almasi/Unsplash

The uptick in violence and discord that we see permeating the Bay Area is also occurring nationwide.  It seems that we are entering a state of vindictive racial, cultural and religious chaos that is affecting all segments of our society.

This wave of violence is very brutal but not new. And unless there is a miracle from our most high God, this violence won’t be eliminated.

But we, by working together in harmony, can do something to develop pathways towards quelling the violence.

Through collective effort we can design an approach that focuses on the causes of these random acts of violence.

As we address the root causes of this daily increase of violence in our community, we will discover that it can be attributed to a variety of reasons which include acts of domestic violence, turf struggles and revengeful acts by some gangs, some rogue activity by a few police officers along with many other senseless racially motivated crimes toward Asians, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans.

To help find solutions to some of this frightening violence we must conduct an extensive outreach to our neighborhood and community groups, civil rights groups, churches and non-profit organizations to find knowledgeable persons who also have extensive experience in the streets of Oakland.

I responded to a challenge from Paul Cobb, the publisher of the Oakland Post, to utilize the network of the readers of my column to solicit solutions to crime and violence. Mr. Cobb and his wife, Gay, attended my graduation while I was in San Quentin and they told me to use my voice to help bring peace and healing to Oakland. 

When I heard that he, along with the Pastors of Oakland and several groups such as the NAACP, Chinatown and the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce had called for peace and unity at Chief Leronne Armstrong’s rally, I accepted his challenge to do outreach to members of the formerly incarcerated community.

I participated in a meeting with the formerly incarcerated and asked them to join with me to meet with Armstrong and any other official who want to employ solutions to the root causes of violence.

Some of the formerly incarcerated who were once complicit in carnage and destructive actions now say they truly understand why they must use their stories to help bring peace to our communities. 

More importantly, they know the ways of the streets and they know how to communicate with and are not fearful of the youth and others who are involved directly and indirectly in destructive acts.

They know they won’t be able to curb the violence in its entirety, but they have clearer insights as to why and what methods or solutions should be employed.

Many of the formerly incarcerated individuals who I have talked to want the media, the police department and our elected leaders to use their power to provide resources to help them bring peace to our community.

Under the auspices of “R.O.C.S.” (Restore Our Community Services), the formerly incarcerated want to work with the churches and other people of power and influence to bring positive approaches so we can witness some positive more peaceful results.

Let’s not allow violence to become the universal panacea for everything that is wrong within our minds. Violence can’t be allowed to replace the practice of civility. Let’s also use community diplomacy to resolve our differences.

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Mayor London Breed Announces SFPD Tourism Deployment Plan as San Francisco Readies for Reemerging Travel Season

SFPD continues showcasing community policing reforms in deployment of 26 additional officers on bicycle and foot patrols to City’s high-traffic, iconic travel destinations



San Francisco Cable Cars/Ragnar Vorel via Unsplash

Mayor London N. Breed announced details from San Francisco’s new community policing and tourism deployment plan to support and safeguard a re-emergent travel season that is forecast to exceed 15.3 million visitors by year’s end.

Outlining operational elements at a press conference on July 19 at Chinatown’s iconic Dragon’s Gate this morning, Breed and Police Chief Bill Scott highlighted how the San Francisco Police Department’s Tourism Deployment Plan will provide high-visibility and welcome support to an economic sector that is vitally important to San Francisco as travelers worldwide emerge from COVID-19 lockdowns.

“Tourism has long been an economic powerhouse in our city, bringing not just local tax revenue to fund vital city services but also jobs and economic opportunities for generations of San Franciscans,” said Breed. “San Francisco has done an incredible job managing this pandemic, and with one of the highest vaccination rates of anywhere in the country, we are working hard to reopen our city. That means bringing more officers to our tourist areas, as well as other efforts like our recently funded efforts to add more ambassadors and performances throughout Downtown, the Waterfront, and Mid-Market areas. We are committed to doing everything we can to reopen our businesses, put our residents back to work, and welcome travelers back to all of our city’s unforgettable destinations.”

The San Francisco Police Department’s Tourism Deployment Plan draws heavily from a community policing strategy that is among the pillars of SFPD’s groundbreaking 21st century police reforms. Under the plan, SFPD will deploy 26 additional police officers on bicycle and foot patrols to an array of high-traffic and highly sought-after travel destinations in five of the City’s 10 police districts:

  • Central Police District’s new deployments will feature 14 additional officers on bike and foot patrols that include: Union Square, Market Street, Powell Street, Chinatown and Lower Grant Avenue, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach and the crooked portion of Lombard Street.


  • Mission Police District’s new deployments will feature two additional officers on bike and foot patrols in the Castro and Upper Market.


  • Northern Police District’s new deployments will feature six additional officers on bicycle patrols around the Palace of Fine Arts, Alamo Square and Japantown.


  • Park Police District’s new deployments will feature two additional officers on bicycle patrols along the Haight Street commercial corridor.e


  • Richmond Police District’s new deployments will feature two additional officers on bicycle patrols in Golden Gate Park.

In addition to this Tourism Deployment Plan, the Mayor’s proposed budget, which the Board of Supervisors has come to an agreement on, includes funding for the Downtown Recovery Plan. The Downtown Recovery Plan includes an expansion of the number of ambassadors in the downtown and Union Square areas; a series of events and activations throughout Downtown, at the site of the temporary Transbay Terminal, and along the waterfront; and improvements at Hallidie Plaza, the entrance to the Powell Street BART Station and site of the Cable Car turnaround.

Outlook for Tourism Sector

Although there is renewed uncertainty about effects from COVID-19 variants in many parts of the world, a San Francisco Travel Association analysis released in March forecast that overall visitation to the City would reach 15.3 million in 2021, with $3.5 billion in overall visitor spending projected by year’s end. The study by San Francisco’s official destination marketing organization said that total visitation was not anticipated to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023. Due to a slower recovery of international visitors and average rate in the City, San Francisco Travel concluded that overall visitor spending was unlikely to return to 2019 levels before 2025.

“Our market research shows a light at the end of the tunnel for destinations like San Francisco after a devastating year for the global tourism industry: there is huge pent-up demand for travel all over the world,” said San Francisco Travel President and CEO Joe D’Alessandro. “As San Francisco embarks on a multi-year recovery, we know that high-visibility, community-oriented patrols by San Francisco police officers provide a reassuring, welcoming presence for the visitors and conventions so essential to our city’s continued success.”

San Francisco Travel reported a total of 10.2 million visitors to the City in 2020, which was down 61 percent from a record high of 26.2 million in 2019. Total spending by visitors was $2.3 billion in 2020, representing a pandemic-driven drop of 77.7 percent from 2019’s record high of $10.3 billion in total visitor spending. Spending figures include expenditures on meetings and conventions in San Francisco.

The COVID-19 pandemic has similarly affected local employment related to the tourism sector, according to San Francisco Travel, which found that the number of jobs supported by tourism in San Francisco fell to 20,880 in 2020 — a 75.8 percent decline from 86,111 jobs tourism supported in 2019.

Expanded Community Policing at Visitor Destinations

The mission of officers detailed to the Tourism Deployment Plan is to provide high-visibility and preventative patrol in their assigned locations, while embodying the principles of a community policing strategy that is a centerpiece of the San Francisco Police Department’s comprehensive and voluntary Collaborative Reform Initiative. Officers are well trained to incorporate five goals into their community interactions and public guardianship, as detailed in SFPD’s Community Policing Strategic Plan. SFPD’s Community Policing principles include:

  • Goal 1: Communication that is honest, transparent, empathetic and culturally and linguistically competent and respectful.


  • Goal 2: Education that both teaches community members in safety awareness and learns from communities to serve more responsively.


  • Goal 3: Problem-solving through collaborative working partnerships to identify and address safety issues and topics of concern.


  • Goal 4: Relationship-building to forge trusting and respectful engagements with San Francisco’s residents and visitors alike.


  • Goal 5: Organizational and operational approaches reflecting the guardian mindset that defines the promise of 21st century policing.

New deployments of police officers under the Tourism Deployment Plan announced on July 19 have already been implemented and will supplement existing patrols citywide, which will remain at current staffing levels.

Officers deployed under the plan will be on bicycle or on foot in frequently traveled areas, greeting and interacting with community members and guests. Assignments include fixed posts as well as patrols in commercial corridors, depending on deployments. Officers’ primary focus will be to engage with the public and provide aid when needed, and to take necessary enforcement action whenever identifying individuals involved in crime.

The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Communications is the source for this story.

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Larry Elder Fails to Make List of Candidates in Gov. Recall Race 

Elder formally launched his campaign to recall Newsom outside the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk office. 

Larry Elders/Wikimedia Commons

On July 17, California elections officials announced 41 candidates had filed the required paperwork to appear on the ballot September 14 in the election to recall and replace current California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Of those, 21 of them are running as Republicans. 

But Larry Elder, the most prominent African American vying to replace Newsom, is not on the official list of candidates, according to state officials. 

The Los Angeles-based, nationally syndicated conservative radio talk show host and newspaper columnist, who announced his candidacy for California governor July 12 will not be among those that California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber is expected to certify next week. 

However, Ying Ma, a campaign spokesperson for Elder, said she expects Elder to be on the final list of certified candidates. 

“Our campaign submitted every document required by the Secretary of State and the Los Angeles County Registrar,” she said in a statement Saturday.

Elder is among 70-plus candidates who have announced that they are vying to unseat Newsom, including former Olympian Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, former U.S. Congressman Doug Ose and 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee John Cox. 

Elder formally launched his campaign to recall Newsom outside the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk office. 

“I’m running for governor because the decline of California isn’t the fault of its people,” he said. “Our government is what’s ruining the Golden State. Our schools are closed to both students and their parents. Our streets aren’t safe from rising violent crime or the disaster of rising homelessness. And the scandals of Sacramento aren’t going to stop on their own. It’s time to tell the truth. We’ve got a state to save.”

Since filing his candidacy, Elder has been using social media platforms to express his views on homelessness in California, education, and the city of Los Angeles’ mandate to wear face masks indoors, including for individuals who are fully vaccinated.

“As Gov, I will not tell, much less order, people to wear masks. I will not falsely claim that mask-wearing protects kids. The reason I wore a mask when I signed the application to run is that Newsom will not allow entry into that govt building without one,” Elder posted to his Twitter account July 14.

On July 16, he followed with another tweet, “If Gavin Newsom had sense or spine he would reverse LA’s mask order, which flies against both CA and CDC rules. He has the power to free LA residents of this madness. When I’m governor, there will be NO mask mandates at state or local level in California.”

Elder, 69, was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. His father, who served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II, moved to California from Georgia and opened a restaurant — Elder’s Snack Bar.

Elder’s mother, who was once a clerical worker for the U.S. Department of War (now the U.S. Department of Defense), raised three boys as a stay-at-home mom.

Elder earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Brown University in Rhode Island and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan School of Law. His daily radio program, “The Larry Elder Show,” is heard every weekday in all 50 states, on more than 300 stations, according to his campaign website. 

Newsom backers have blasted the recall effort as a Republican attempt to steal an election they cannot legitimately win. 

“This recall is a partisan power grab – nothing more, nothing less — a cynical attempt by national Republicans to force an election, and to try to seize control in California,” said U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, former California Secretary of State and the state’s first Latino U.S. Senator. “This Republican recall effort is powered by the same forces who still refuse to accept the results of the presidential election in 2020. They are pushing voter suppression efforts in statehouse after statehouse across the country.”

Editor-in-chief note:   On July 21, Superior Court Judge Laurie M. Earl ruled: “I don’t find that Mr. Elder was required to file tax returns at all.”  That was because the September 14 election is considered a special contest rather than a direct primary.  Elder tweeted “Victory!  My next one will be on Sept. 14 at the ballot box.”

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